The Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Diocese of the USA, Canada, and Australia (BOD) announced on its website on Saturday 21 March 2015 that Archpriest Paisius DeLucia would be defrocked.
SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is relieved that the BOD removed the founder and former head of St Innocent Academy (SIA) in Kodiak AK from a position of authority. However, they agree with the publishers of Academy Abuse that more remains to be done.
At least 18 former students accused DeLucia of physical, emotional, and spiritual abuse. The spiritual court concluded that he publicly shamed kids, used vulgar language, engaged in unbecoming behaviour while serving the sacraments, including interrupting liturgy to discipline attendees, violated confessions, and used “improper pastoral approaches toward the faithful”.
David Clohessy, the Executive Director of SNAP, said, “First, it must be said that this decision would not have been possible without the bravery and persistence of all the former students who testified at the spiritual court. We congratulate them on their victory and applaud their courage”. Cappy Larson of SNAP added, “However, the diocese also needs to step up and explain what they will do in the future to prevent further abuses. As a mother, it’s very disturbing to me that St Innocent’s was billing itself as a treatment centre for troubled youth without any oversight from the Church or from the state. Kids with problems deserve a qualified and credentialed staff”. Melanie Jula Sakoda, also of SNAP, wondered, “And are the BOD and Christ the Saviour Brotherhood (CSB) going to take responsibility for what happened to the students who attended the academy? Fr Paisius’ victims may need counselling and therapy as they try to heal”.
DeLucia founded SIA in 1998 under the auspices of CSB, and the group reportedly still owns the property where the school sits. The academy, along with other parishes from CSB, joined the BOD in 2000.
Clohessy concluded, “There’s also still an open criminal investigation into the academy. Victims who haven’t yet done so should make a report to Trooper Robert Casey (907-486-4121, firstname.lastname@example.org) as soon as possible”.
At their recent meeting in Syosset NY, the bishops of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) again delayed defrocking Canadian Archbishop Seraphim Storheim.
Members of an abuse survivors’ group are outraged that the synod still has not removed the archbishop from the ranks of clergy. He was the OCA’s highest-ranking clergyman in Canada, but was convicted of sexually assaulting an 11-year-old altar boy in January of 2014 and is currently in jail.
The OCA’s synod instead “reviewed” the report of the Synodal Commission, as well as procedures and a date for the spiritual court. They also appointed a committee of three bishops to “develop appropriate procedures”.
Leaders of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, say that the denomination has publicly acknowledged that their sex abuse policy requires that clergy convicted of child sexual abuse be laicised.
Cappy Larson of SNAP said, “This ‘spiritual court’ seems to me to be little more than a time-wasting formality. Both Archbishop Seraphim’s guilt and church policy are crystal clear”. Melanie Jula Sakoda, also of SNAP, added, “At least Archbishop Seraphim can’t use his religious title to hurt children from behind bars, but what happens when he completes his sentence?” Larson concluded, “The OCA can’t afford to have the archbishop’s die-hard supporters expose kids to danger to prove to him that they trust him completely”.
The fact that the OCA refuses to give Storheim the drop even though he’s in the slam for nasty doings speaks volumes. I have to walk away from this one. One MP priest asked me, “Which one of the OCA bishops isn’t gay?” This gives that question tread… and I wish that it didn’t. However, facts are facts… the OCA has to shitcan Storheim and apologise to his victims for the over-the-top attacks on them by Storheim’s shyster in court. That’s what I believe, any road. I stand by it.